Read "Burning Passover's 'garbage of the soul'" at CNN Belief
President Barack Obama marked the start of Passover Monday night with a Seder at the White House. It's a yearly tradition for the president that began on the campaign trail in 2008.
"This has been a very, very powerful event for the president," Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday, adding that Obama planned to use the Seder plate given to him by Sara Netanyahu last week during his trip to Israel.
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The week-long Passover holiday kicks off at sundown tonight with the ritual Seder meal. The centerpiece of the feast is the Seder plate, brimming with symbolic foods that commemorate the exodus of Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The plate includes:
Founder Nick Wiseman and chef Barry Koslow of DGS Delicatessen in Washington, D.C., have a few tips to help freshen up the traditional Passover Seder menu without upsetting your bubbe too much.
Five Ways to Modernize Your Seder: Barry Koslow
Plenty of traditional foods pack an emotional whallop, but few of them back it up with a sensory punch as strong as horseradish's. The pungent root is a key part of a Passover Seder plate (along with salt water-dipped vegetables, a shank bone, a hard boiled egg, a sweet paste of apples and nuts called charoset, and a bitter vegetable - often lettuce) and symbolizes the harsh lives of the Israelites before they were delivered from slavery in Egypt.
Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
If there’s one kind of wine in the whole world of wine that’s misunderstood, it’s probably kosher wine. The basic misnomer is that it is somehow different - that the process of making kosher wine differs in some radical way from the process of making regular, un-kosher wine. This idea, mostly, isn’t true.
The short version is this: Grapes are kosher, and there’s nothing about the nature of the winemaking process that makes them not so. What matters is more the who than the how.
All over the world, people gather to celebrate Passover - the holiday that commemorates the Jewish people's escape from slavery in Egypt. For seven or eight days (depending on where you live), families and friends come together for festive seder meals packed with ritual foods and a few dietary restrictions (for instance, no leavened grains).
And while many traditions remain the same the world over, favorite regional recipes can bring communities closer together. Here, families from Israel, Estonia and India share a few of their favorites, courtesy of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, to make your celebration a little larger in spirit.
The emails are flooding into Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld’s Washington office from around the world – London, Zurich, New York, Mexico – all with one goal: to have the rabbi sell all the bread products in their homes in time for Passover.
As Passover approaches, orthodox Jews strip their homes of all bread products, called chametz in Hebrew. Cereal, breads, even grain-based alcohol is consumed, destroyed or sold – through a rabbi – to a non-Jewish neighbor.
After Passover, the seller can buy the chametz back. In almost all cases, the bread products never physically change hands but are put away under lock and key in the seller’s home.
As Jewish families around the world sit down at the Seder dinner table to commemorate the Passover holiday, conversations will no doubt turn to an age-old debate. No, not the question of tax cuts versus tax increase. It's a discussion that has as many diverse opinions as any political dispute: "Who makes the best matzah balls?"
In the quest to answer this question the South Florida Golden Matzah Bowl was held. Among the judges was a Catholic priest responsible for choosing the winner in the "Father Knows Best Award."
Local chefs took up the challenge and brought their version of matzah balls to the Forest Trace community center in Lauderhill, Florida. Among the other titles to be awarded were "Most Like Mama," "Chef's Choice," and the ultimate prize, a chance to be crowned "Best All-Around Matzah Ball."
Read the rest of Festival proves magic is in the matzah ball memories on CNN Belief, but before you go...
CNN.com Religion Editor Dan Gilgoff explains the Jewish festival of Passover, which starts at sundown Monday and commemorates the Israelites' liberation from slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago.
Watch the video above to learn more about the Seder – the meal in which the story of Exodus is told – and the various symbols used during the holiday, including matzo (unleavened bread), bitter herbs, salt water and a lamb shank bone.
Read "Let my people go: Understanding the Passover Seder" on the CNN Belief Blog.
Previously - Stephanie Izard's Five Favorite Matzo Toppers